Two medication companies have been accused by the UK’s competitors watchdog of unlawful pricing and abusing their dominant place to overcharge the NHS for very important anti-epilepsy tablets.
The Competitors and Markets Authority (CMA) mentioned it had provisionally discovered that coronavirus vaccine-maker Pfizer and Flynn broke competitors legislation by charging unfairly excessive costs for phenytoin sodium capsules – mountaineering the price of the therapy by as much as 2,600% “in a single day”.
It noticed NHS spending on the capsules rocket from round £2m a yr in 2012 to about £50m in 2013, in response to the regulator.
The newest discovering comes after the CMA reinvestigated the case following appeals by the 2 companies over an earlier determination in December 2016, which noticed them slapped with a document £90m nice.
In 2018, the Competitors Appeals Tribunal (CAT) upheld a lot of the unique findings, however referred the matter of illegal abuse of dominance again to the CMA for additional consideration.
The CMA and Flynn then went to the Courtroom of Enchantment, which dismissed the pharmaceutical agency’s attraction however upheld facets of the CMA’s case.
Following this, the watchdog determined to re-investigate, launching its present inquiry in June 2020.
CMA chief govt Andrea Coscelli mentioned: “Hundreds of sufferers rely upon this drug to stop life-threatening seizures on account of their epilepsy.
“Because the CAT recognised, it is a matter that’s necessary for presidency, for the general public as sufferers and taxpayers, and for the pharmaceutical business itself.
“Defending these sufferers, the NHS and the taxpayers who fund it’s our precedence.”
In its provisional discovering, the CMA claims the businesses exploited a loophole by de-branding the drug – often called Epanutin previous to September 2012 – with the impact that the drug was not topic to cost regulation in the way in which branded medication are.
It mentioned: “As Pfizer and Flynn have been the dominant suppliers of the drug within the UK, the NHS had no selection however to pay unfairly excessive costs for the very important medication.”
Over greater than 4 years, Pfizer’s costs rocketed by between 780% and 1,600%.
Pfizer then provided the drug to Flynn, which bought it to wholesalers and pharmacies at costs between 2,300% and a pair of,600% larger than these they’d paid beforehand, in response to the CMA.
The CMA mentioned Pfizer and Flynn now had a chance to answer its provisional findings earlier than a remaining determination was made.
The regulator mentioned it remained dedicated in its work “to sort out robustly any unlawful behaviour by drug corporations overcharging the NHS”, stating it lately fined companies a complete of £360m for competitors legislation breaches over the provision of remedy.